I have been a staff member at the Milwaukee Ronald McDonald House for a number of years. On a daily basis, I have the opportunity to witness the important role this House plays in so many families’ lives. I’m sitting at my desk thinking about how often I become so task driven that I forget to pay attention to the sounds of truck wheels moving across the floor, a small child giggling, or the hum of two moms who are sitting in the great room sharing their stories. These sounds are part of the life of this House that far outweigh the sounds of the copy machine copying, desk drawers closing, keyboards clicking, or phones ringing.

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Our family stayed at RMHC for the first time Friday night. My 10 year old son, Oliver, is battling leukemia with intensive chemotherapy for the second time now.

We live in Kenosha and while I stay overnight with Oliver in the hospital, my husband drives up with our other three children after work/school every night. It helps Oliver so much to not feel so isolated and depressed, to look forward to having his siblings around.

But when Paula (our awesome social worker) told us about RMHC, we thought we’d try it out on the weekend….WOW! What we thought might just be more “convenient,” turned out to be so much more!

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In 1974, President Nixon established National Volunteer Week, an initiative encouraging Americans to give back to their community through service. Every year National Volunteer Week is recognized by our elected officials throughout the United States.

As the Volunteer Manager, I have the pleasure of working with over 600 volunteers. Fourteen to 100 year olds volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, giving their time and talents. Our volunteers help keep our mission alive by providing transportation to and from the hospital, office work, light housekeeping duties, making quilts for the guest rooms, gardening in the Secret Garden, supporting special events, cleaning and maintaining our kitchens, providing meals for the families and a variety of other duties.

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13 Apr 2015

My Family at RMHC!

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Spring is finally here, and boy I’m glad for that. I can hear the birds chirping and the sun feels so warm on my fur.

I have been meeting so many amazing kids lately; some from pretty far away. I was so glad to see my old friends from Bahrain, Asia. They traveled to the U.S. for a doctor’s visit. They are such a special family and I felt so happy because they wanted to see me!

My family recently went on a trip to Chicago to visit some relatives. They had an interesting animal living in their home, called a ‘cat’. I’ve never seen one of those before; I really wanted to play with him. But for some reason, they kept hiding him from me. I was sort of glad because he had some really cool toys! Best toy was the squeaky mouse on a string. It was a blast! Why can’t they make dog toys like this? It even has this great smell that I can’t resist. I think I know why my human Mom says I’m spoiled – because as soon as we got home, she took me to the pet store and bought one! I played with it all night! Just don’t tell Buster and Brutus from across the street. They may not understand.

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On February 11, 2015,  Kohl’s corporate office held there 5th Annual Chili Cook Off.  The Chili Cook-Off proceeds went to the Ronald McDonald House. The Kohl’s Volunteer Council chose the Ronald McDonald House, because they fully support all of the incredible work they are doing to help give the families of Children’s Hospital a loving and caring place they can go to after being at the hospital all day. It is very hard to have your child in the hospital, and being far from home makes it even harder.  The Ronald McDonald House gives a “home away from home” for these incredible families to stay for little to no cost,  which truly is a gift.

The cook-off had 21 chili participants and loads of baked goods. We served over 200 people in less than 1 hour with everyone having a blast.

Below are the winning Chili Recipes – enjoy enjoy!!!

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As spring slowly creeps into Wisconsin and I look forward to putting away my heavy winter parka, gloves, and wool sweaters, I can’t help but get excited about wearing brighter and lighter clothes.  We each have our own ideas about fashion and as Marilyn Monroe once said, “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.”  While I don’t personally think a pair of shoes can  have that much impact, I do think a fashion event coming up this fall in Milwaukee will have significant impact for the House and two other Milwaukee charities.  Many of you may have read the press release or heard that Nordstrom is opening its first Wisconsin store this fall, in Milwaukee, at Mayfair Mall.  Each time Nordstrom, Inc. opens a store in a new city they throw a Gala that benefits local charities.

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23 Mar 2015

I love my job at the House!

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My name is Tiffany Klopp and I am the Family Services Director at RMHC.  I have been at the House for almost six years.  Since the first time I walked through the main doors I knew this House was special and that this was where I belonged.  I often wonder when I’m driving home how to put into words the experience of the House that I love so dearly.

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In his novel, Seed Folks, author Paul Fleischman wrote “You can’t see Canada from Lake Erie but you know it’s there. It is the same with spring. You have to have faith, especially in Cleveland.”

The vernal equinox, arriving in Milwaukee on March 20 at 5:45 pm, will usher in longer days. Temperatures will warm and we can work in our gardens. Not soon enough for some of us.

An early spring task should be pruning deciduous trees and shrubs for shape and to remove crossing and old or dead branches. Do not prune spring flowering specimens until after they have bloomed. Many trees and shrubs set their flower buds last season.

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It’s the little things….

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, slowing down to breathe and take a moment to look and listen is often last on the list. I came in to work today with a list already forming in my mind, so much to do today….so little time….You know the drill.

As I was walking to get water there was a very energetic little girl running around in the Great Room.  I paused and said good morning and she ran up to me and gave me a dollar.  If only all of my development work was this easy!!!  “I want you to have this” she said.  I asked her what her name was, “Roxi” she informed me, she’s three, and will be 4 when it’s hot outside.  Roxi enthusiastically showed me her light up Elsa shoes and again told me that the dollar was for me “to give to the children,” off Roxi ran to get more toys.  I asked the mom if this was ok and she told me, “it’s Roxi’s dollar to do with as she chooses.” After that, Roxi and I walked into the Green Room to put the dollar in the donation house.  She was thrilled and proud, reminding me once again of the importance of slowing down.

Thank you Roxi for sharing your smile, your enthusiasm and your dollar.  My eyes, ears and heart are open to the possibilities this day holds!

Bridget Kesner | Director of Development

Bridget has extensive experience in all areas of fundraising and is a huge asset to our existing development team as we focus on our strategic plans and funding our now-larger Ronald McDonald House. Bridget’s prior position was Director of Development at Marquette University.  Bridget knows our House well as she has been a House volunteer prior to accepting her new role at the house.


Roxi and Bridget



The days are getting longer, cardinals and chickadees are singing. Soon the red-winged blackbirds will be back, and you may spot a brave robin. Red dossier dogwood bark is a brilliant scarlet red, and it is maple syrup making time. Despite the cold temperatures, everyday feels closer to spring. The Secret Garden UW-Extension Master Gardener volunteers are busy taking classes and planning next year’s vegetable and flower gardens. We are working on some significant landscape changes. This winter we have taken classes in vegetable gardening, edible landscaping, gardening for wildlife, shade gardening, new trees, shrubs and perennials. We have many more to come! We have already begun starting our vegetable pants under gro-lights. Have you heard about the “Ketchup and Fries” plant? It is a cherry tomato plant grafted onto a potato plant. Wouldn’t it be fun and space efficient to harvest tomatoes all summer, and then dig up potatoes at the end of the season!

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